January 9, 2006

Creationism in California - Frazier Mountain High School's ID class

Some preliminary notes regarding the winter intersession class on “Philosophy of Design” currently being taught at Lebec’s Frazier Mountain High School in California.

Despite any evasive or quibbling noises made by ID proponents a couple of things about this class are becoming clear. It is not, or was not originally, merely intended as a philosophical discussion or critical appraisal of ideas of origins. It was designed to expose students to standard ID creationism including, most prominently of course, problems with “Darwinism.” The language is unmistakeable, the references disappointingly familiar.

Another quite striking aspect of this business is that it is yet another example of clueless ID advocates mixing together YEC and ID and their own ignorant misapprehensions.

The following is the original one paragraph description of the course offered to students on a course selection list,
• Philosophy of Intelligent Design: “This class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological, and Biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin’s philosophy is not rock solid. This class will discuss Intelligent Design as an alternative response to evolution. Topics that will be covered are the age of the earth, a world wide flood, dinosaurs, pre-human fossils, dating methods, DNA, radioisotopes, and geological evidence. Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions. The class will include lecture discussions, guest speakers, and videos. The class grade will be based on a position paper in which students will support or refute the theory of evolution.”
Also interesting to note is that the social studies teacher (and minister’s wife) who is the instructor of the class originally included as guest speakers JPL scientist Ken Hurst, who has since made it clear that he never had, and never would have, agreed to participate in the class, and Francis Crick (misspelled Krich) who would have had trouble showing up under all but the most providential of circumstances (Crick died in 2004). From an online article,
“Teacher Sharon Lemburg said the inclusion of Crick, who co-discovered the double helix structure of DNA, in the syllabus was an honest mistake.”
Besides those two proposed “evolutionist” speakers there were three on the list for the ID side. They included a professor from a Christian fundamentalist college, another speaker suggested by the professor, and a representative from a creationist organization.

It is interesting that the superintendent of this district, John Wight, would describe this as “just a philosophy class” and assert that "It's a critical thinking class" since the teacher appears to be far better educated in creationist pseudoscience than anything even remotely resembling philosophy or critical thinking.

It remains to be seen whether the district representatives and school board (who voted 3-2 to approve the class) are complicit in the attempt to foist ID on students or just misguided in their desire to deflect criticism.

More to come on this issue.


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